Pubdate: Fri, 26 Jun 2015
Source: Toronto Sun (CN ON)
Copyright: 2015 Canoe Limited Partnership
Author: Michele Mandel
Page: 9


No apology for nabbing lawyer

BRAMPTON - Toronto criminal lawyer Laura Liscio had to explain to her
grandma in Italy why Peel Regional Police arrested her for smuggling
drugs to a client.

And now finally cleared, she wants the police to pay for the
embarrassment and shame they've caused.

In the very courthouse where she was slapped with handcuffs and
paraded in her robes to a waiting cruiser, Liscio, 32, was exonerated
Thursday when the Crown withdrew all outstanding charges against her
for having "no reasonable prospect of conviction."

Behold the deafening silence from Peel police.

There was no press release this time, no grand announcements like the
ones they gleefully issued after her humiliating arrest.

And there was certainly no apology.

They may want to reconsider. Six weeks ago, Liscio filed a
$1.2-million defamation lawsuit against Peel police. Her civil lawyer,
Louis Sokolov, said they now plan to amend the claim to include
malicious prosecution and negligent investigation.

"This was somebody who worked tirelessly day after day to build up a
career as a lawyer and, in the course of one day, it all came
shattering down," Sokolov said. "One day you're going about your
business quietly and the next you're in handcuffs and your face is
plastered all over the Internet."

According to her statement of claim, Liscio was given permission to
pass clean clothes to her incarcerated client at the Brampton
courthouse before the start of his trial on Feb. 12. The shirt, pants
and shoes were given to her by a friend of the accused that morning
and she handed them to a court security officer to search.

"Unbeknownst to Ms. Liscio, both shoes contained a quantity of
marijuana that was concealed in hollowed-out heels under the insoles,"
the lawsuit says.

After the discovery, she feared her client was about to be charged.
Instead, she was shocked to see officers approach her outside the
courtroom and place her under arrest. Ignoring her pleas not to
embarrass her, they handcuffed her in her lawyer's robes and "perp
walked" her twice through the crowded courthouse for all to see.

"Typically, when a police officer or any other officer of the court is
arrested, the police carry out such arrest in a discreet and dignified
manner so that the accused is not gratuitously humiliated. In this
case, the PRP intentionally and maliciously chose to arrest Ms. Liscio
in a manner that would maximize her shame and humiliation," the
lawsuit alleges.

"In addition, the PRP purposely sought to discredit her personally in
the eyes of the public and her colleagues, as well as discredit
criminal defence lawyers generally."

While she was being charged at the station, "someone from the PRP
leaked the details of the arrest, including all of the inaccuracies,
to the national media."

According to the claim, Peel police published three press releases
that included "false, defamatory and malicious statements about
Liscio," including boldly convicting her by saying "she did smuggle
drugs into the courthouse."

They also falsely claimed she hadn't been arrested in her court attire
and had been discreetly taken to an unmarked squad car, the lawsuit

None of the claims have been proven in court. The police have not
filed a statement of defence. Instead, they issued a curt statement:
"The decision to withdraw the charges is a decision that is made by
the Crown attorney's office. In this case they determined that there
was no reasonable prospect of conviction. The matter is still before
the courts as another person is currently facing charges in relation
to the investigation and as such Peel Police will not be commenting on
the case."

That's not good enough, says lawyer Joseph Neuberger.

The past president of the Toronto Lawyers Association says Liscio
deserves an apology and the police should conduct a transparent
inquiry to find out how this was bungled so badly.

"I think their behaviour was highly inappropriate and denigrating to
the legal profession at large. There was obviously a rush to judgment
and the manner of the arrest was deplorable."

With a relieved Liscio by his side, criminal lawyer Stephen Bernstein
said she was happy her harrowing ordeal was over.

"This has been a devastating experience for Laura," Bernstein said.
"Laura was, at the time of her arrest and continued to be and is,
innocent, completely innocent."

And now she deserves to be compensated for the damage to her
reputation and her livelihood.
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